MTN suspends all “off-deck” marketing due to massive WASP fraud

Since MyBroadband encountered a fraudulent WASP subscription on our MTN SIM during a routine airtime depletion test, we received multiple reports from MTN customers frustrated by disappearing airtime.

The reports mirror the issue we experienced, with customers in each case confirming that they did not give permission to being subscribed to a WASP service.

MyBroadband sent the mobile numbers of two of the affected customers to MTN for investigation, and the company confirmed that both were fraudulently subscribed to one of its content billing platforms.

“Upon the investigation, MTN established that both mobile numbers were fraudulently subscribed to MTN internal content through a web/WAP request sent through to one of MTN’s content subscription billing platforms,” said MTN SA executive for corporate affairs Jacqui O’Sullivan.

“MTN has received a few of these queries which were immediately unsubscribed and customers were refunded,” she said.

MTN also noted that the number of complaints has substantially decreased since the implementation of its new fraud prevention initiatives.

“As previously communicated, MTN has implemented a Treating Customers Fairly policy, which is aimed at ensuring that MTN customers are protected against fraudulent and scam activities,” O’Sullivan said.

Off-deck campaign suspension

MTN told MyBroadband that due to the prevalence of fraudulent WASP subscriptions on its network, it has suspended all “off-deck” campaigns with its partners and have enforced fraud protection systems in MTN banners and landing pages marketed by partners.

Off-deck marketing, also known as programmatic media buying, uses real-time buying to automate the process of buying and selling ad inventory through an exchange.

The technology analyses visitor behaviour and tailors real-time campaign optimisations towards audiences. Programmatic companies have the ability to gather this audience data for this purpose.

The fraudulent WASP subscriptions covered by MyBroadband were conducted by taking advantage of this programmatic media buying system, approving opt-in and double opt-in without the user’s permission through media banners.

Now read: This is why we cannot have nice things

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MTN suspends all “off-deck” marketing due to massive WASP fraud